Summertime reminds us all that drinking water is important for proper hydration. After all, it’s easy to monitor just how much our body is losing as we wipe the sweat from our forehead. But what about baby? Is she getting all the water she needs to stay well-hydrated?
In general, the answer is yes for babies six months and under, provided they are getting the proper amount of breast milk or formula according to their body weight. Breast milk is composed of nearly 90% water, the other 10% being a combination of vital nutrients. Formula fed babies should consume 2 to 2 ½ ounces per pound per day, according to Dr. Sears.
The other important element to remember about proper hydration is that it isn’t only about water. Your body is filled with electrolytes, which enable other cells to function properly. Sweating, aggressive activities and vomiting not only release water from your body, it creates an electrolyte imbalance, hence that sluggish feeling.
Babies’ bodies are smaller than adults, though, so this means their nutrition and hydration needs are also different. Many pediatricians recommend avoiding giving water to babies under six months for fear of throwing that electrolyte balance out of order, a condition called “water intoxication”.
As baby gets older, water can become a healthy part of her diet as long as it does not fill her up too much. A good rule of thumb is to offer milk at meals to quench her thirst, and water in between.